Start your day smarter with a dossier on the most important world news, rounded off with a shot of intriguing and offbeat stories. Like the president, you deserve no less.
Sep 30, 2021
The government officially runs out of money tonight, and Congress seems far from approving more along with a necessary debt ceiling hike. An Ecuadorian prison riot featuring bombs and beheadings has killed more than 100 people. And Britney is free — of her dad’s control, anyway.
Welcome to the brink. Tonight America’s federal fiscal year ends without a budget. Funds can’t be approved without increasing the debt ceiling, which Senate Republicans have blocked. But fear not: “Every single time this comes up, it gets fixed,” said JPMorgan’s CEO. But the political power plays mean his bank and the rest of Wall Street are braced for a financial crisis. The Treasury can use financial tricks to keep things running until Oct. 18, but then something needs to give. And that might be President Joe Biden’s $3.5 trillion package that includes helping the climate and perhaps even a bipartisan $1 trillion infrastructure bill. Sources: (CNN, CNBC, WSJ [sub])
What do you think? Do federal debt concerns outweigh America’s fiscal needs? Tell us by answering the poll below.
At least 116 people have died, five of them by beheadings, in an Ecuadorian prison riot. The fighting, which began Tuesday, took place between the “Los Lobos” faction and Mexico-linked “Los Choneros” gang. Prisoners used knives, guns and even explosives in carnage that took some 400 police officers to quell. A former justice minister said it was the worst violence in the system’s history, but it’s not unusual, with 79 inmates dying in three prisons at the same time in February. In this week’s aftermath, President Guillermo Lasso declared a state of emergency and pledged to speed up approval of a $24 million prison improvement program. (Sources: AP, Al Jazeera)
Was it incitement? That’s the question behind 11 subpoenas issued last night, for the Jan. 6 assault on lawmakers certifying November election results that unseated former President Donald Trump. Those summoned include former Trump campaign spokesperson Katrina Pierson, and others involved with organizing a rally near the White House. Trump has been accused of inciting rioters with his unfounded election fraud claims at the event, whose audience then marched toward the Capitol. One of the Capitol stormers, wearing a USA team jacket, was Olympic swimming gold medalist Klete Keller, who pleaded guilty Wednesday to felony obstruction of an official proceeding and likely faces two years’ imprisonment. (Sources: The Hill, Politico)
Cutting and Running
General Blames Taliban Pact for Afghan Collapse
The message was powerful. But the agreement signed between the U.S. and the Taliban in Doha, Qatar, in February 2020 “had a really pernicious effect on the government” then running Afghanistan with American military assistance, U.S. Central Command chief Gen. Frank McKenzie told a House committee yesterday. “We set a date certain for when we were going to leave” and that had a psychological impact on both the Afghan government and military. That precipitated last month’s fall of Kabul and chaotic evacuation. Among the casualties were 10 members of an Afghan family, killed in a mistaken drone strike, whose survivors are now seeking relocation to the U.S. (Sources: AP, CNN)
Also Important …
Former French President Nicolas Sarkozy potentially faces six more months in prison on top of an earlier yearlong corruption sentence after being convicted of illegal campaign financing in Paris today. Israeli Foreign Minister Yair Lapid has arrived in Bahrain for a historic visit to establish an embassy. And a super PAC supporting former President Trump has dismissed longtime Trump aide Corey Lewandowski after a donor accused him of sexual harassment.
Coronavirus Update: Activists demanding that the U.S. manufacture more vaccine doses for the rest of the world parked a “mountain” of fake bones outside the Washington home of President Biden’s chief of staff. And a trio of teens has surprised thousands of Australians using virus tracking app CovidBaseAU by revealing that they designed it themselves.
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She’s ready now. Sparking cheers outside a Los Angeles courthouse, a California judge yesterday removed pop star Britney Spears’ father Jamie as the conservator of her estate and ordered him to supply financial records to an accountant who’ll be the artist’s temporary conservator. The ruling by Judge Brenda Penny, who called the arrangement “untenable,” could be the climax of the #FreeBritney movement that’s accompanied media exposés and a reexamination of conservatorships generally. But the “Hit Me Baby One More Time” singer, stripped of free will over mental health concerns in 2008, must wait until a Nov. 12 hearing for a ruling on ending her legal bondage entirely. (Sources: Variety, THR)
2 - Shot Blockers
YouTube Bans Anti-Vax Videos
This won’t hurt a bit. YouTube said Wednesday it was banning misinformation about vaccines, and not just the COVID-19 variety. The ban includes videos that claim approved vaccines don’t work, cause major health complications like autism or cancer or contain harmful substances, Google’s video sharing site said. One of the first targets was Robert F. Kennedy Jr., a prominent anti-vaxxer who saw his channel shuttered and called it “censorship.” The German version of Russian broadcaster RT had two channels removed, prompting the Kremlin to threaten to block YouTube in Russia. (Sources: Ars Technica, The Week)
3 - Animal Anthem
Bear Attacks Inspire Japanese ‘Roar, Roar’ Rock
Some days, the bear safety song gets you. Officials in Japan’s Iwate prefecture are hoping that blasting out a new rock ’n’ roll song will prevent troubling human-bear interactions. The electric guitar and raucous vocals warn potential victims that bear cubs may be cute, but a nearby parent will “roar, roar, roar, roar, roar, roar — it’ll suddenly attack you!” It may help that the artists are approaching Rolling Stones age, with Yuuzen Taguchi, 69, recalling personal bear encounters and his grandparents’ advice against fleeing. And Kaoru Toudou, 61, who wrote the bluesy tune, allows that playing the song outdoors might serve as a repellent. (Source: AFP)
4 - Touchless Heists
Researchers Hack Visa iPhone Payments
It’s effortless. For thieves, it would seem. Security sleuths from University of Birmingham and the University of Surrey have made a video showing how, with a simple wireless device, they can make contactless payments with locked phones above limits that are supposed to prevent such thefts. The experts say security flaws in Apple and Visa payment systems allow the hack, which doesn’t work with Android phones. They also say the companies haven’t fixed the problem despite their warnings. Visa responded that such fraud schemes, conducted in laboratories, are “impractical to execute at scale” in the real world. (Sources: Sky News, ZDNet)
5 - Late Hit
Report: NFL Still Favors Whites in Dementia Cases
It’s still the norm. A Washington Post investigation has found that the NFL continues to deny concussion settlement payouts to Black players because of “race norming.” That’s diagnosing dementia that assumes Black men’s cognitive function is lower, so they must show greater decline to prove brain damage. One doctor even quit over it: “I just felt the patients were getting jerked around,” said Maureen Leehey, a neurology professor. “It just wasn’t right.” The league denies it’s still using the discriminatory practice, but Michelle Haselrig, widow of Pittsburgh Steeler Carlton Haselrig, accused NFL lawyers of maintaining the double standard “to save money.” (Source: Washington Post)
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